Wednesday, January 01, 2020

A decade in review

January 2010
I don't remember being ready to embrace 2010, but I remember when 2009 ended, I was well and ready to see it go.

I didn't think about it at the time as the end of a decade, but perhaps more the end of an era.

2009 was the year of my dad's seventh and fatal suicide attempt. Some people asked if it was a relief, to finally stop being vigilant after years of constant worry.

It was not a relief.

2009 was the year we bought our house, had a baby, and immediately thereafter started construction while living in aforementioned house.

People complimented me on losing the baby weight fast, and here is what I will tell you: I lost my baby weight fast because I had a C-section and I couldn't do stairs, and we had no kitchen on the ground floor, and Nick worked all the time, and my mom was pretty occupied with grief. So nobody fed me.

Nick would come home from work at 9:00 or 10:00 pm and ask what I'd had for dinner and I think that's about the time I started joking about stabbing him.

(I don't really joke about it with him around anymore because he finds it offensive.)

My friend Kathy asked if I needed anything and I asked her for a stash of protein bars. I put them in my bedside table and that's what I'd eat.

Leading up to Christmas, Nick proposed a fake tree, but I wanted a real tree. And then Nick asked who was going to water it and vacuum up the branches and I was all, OK, let's get a fake one.

It was magical. It was already wrapped with lights. We just used it for the 10th time this Christmas. Half the lights died two years ago and the rest of them went last year, so we snipped them all off and now we string our own. But the tree is still lovely.

I remember Nick being so angry that when it was time to take down the tree, because neither my mother nor I took off the decorations.

When I first thought back on the past decade, I initially said it was dominated by having and raising children and renovating our house. 

However, once I read through this piece I realized that loss was an equally important, if not perhaps the prevailing theme.

By the beginning of 2010 I was being treated for post-partum depression, but I was, in retrospect, not adequately medicated and still barely hanging on. I probably should've also been in therapy. I look back at this video and I feel like it could be a depression commercial.

In early 2010 we had snowmaggeddon, where DC shut down for about two weeks. Our boiler gave out that first night and we were lucky that our friend Kurt, the manager of the guest house across the street, was at our house playing Scrabble with Betty when it happened. He brought over all their extra space heaters, and we kept the pipes from freezing.

I don't remember much about 2010 except that giant snow, and that Jordan was, thankfully, a good sleeper. He'd nurse and fall asleep and I would lie in bed silently fuming about my peacefully sleeping husband and thinking about how Nick and I would divide up the furniture.

If it sounds like I harbored a lot of animosity towards Nick in those early years, it's because I did.

Hate might be an extreme way to put it but you know I don't trust women who never admit to wanting to stab their husbands.

Life is not perfect. People are hard to live with. (I am hard to live with.)

I am even harder to live with while taking hormones, which was the fun thing we did in 2011, which led to the arrival of our delightful India in 2012.

Also in 2011, we sold Betty's house and she moved in with us shortly before India was born.

In the GW hospital exit class, I met Meg, a woman who would become one of my dearest friends. Our daughters were born the same day, and we spent our maternity leaves together nursing all around DC, and now we and they are lifelong friends.

We plan for them to take their gap years together somewhere fabulous that their mothers would like to come visit.

In 2013 we lost Nick's dad. India was a year old, and we rented a minivan to drive all of us all to New Jersey. India threw up repeatedly in the car, and we drove straight to the church. Nick's partner Scott arrived at the same time as us, and came over and opened the passenger door to the overwhelming smell of baby puke.

We'd all just gotten used to it over the hours and miles.

In 2014 we lost Auntie Lou, Maude's mama. We still use her recipes and tell funny stories and talk about how much we miss her.

In 2015 we took our progeny and my mother to Spain and I almost died of exhaustion.

In 2016, my cousin Travis passed away, and now I walk in his honor on my Overnight walks. And I wouldn't say this was a highlight, but on the way home from the memorial service, Betty and I both got puked on on an airplane.

In 2017 we lost three people we loved, and it was a year that walloped me. We lost dear Pat, my other mother. We lost John, a dear family friend, whose family I'd known since I was born. And we lost Kim, AKA Australian Builder who remodeled practically our entire house (you may remember him along with Hector Big Wood).

We also went to Family Camp at Winona for the first time, which was the camp experience I never had growing up. It was beautiful and fun and except for the lack of sleep from sleeping in a tent, pretty much perfect.

In 2018, Nick turned 50, and took the day off and took the kids for a helicopter ride. Ever since they've asked if they can play hooky.

I think of helicopters as certain death, and in any case, I'd gone back to office work. That summer I  took the kids to camp in Cartagena, Colombia, for two weeks by myself.

In September of 2018 we had our 10th wedding anniversary. We both agreed that if we could live together through everything we did our first year of marriage, we could stay married forever. There have been periods of time that have tested this notion, but on the whole, we ended 10 years way stronger than we began.

Also, and I am very proud of this, I got my first paid article published in the Washington Post's On Parenting section.

I'm going to say it here: I have a goal of getting three pieces into publications in 2020.

I did practically no writing the last couple years. This is the year I return to it.

And in 2019, the last year of this decade, I was reminded of the fact that whenever I decide to cut off all my hair, it means I'm in crisis. Even if I don't seem like it on the outside. Even if I'm all, oh, I just need a change.


Next time I'm like, I want a pixie! Just for fun! Please ask me if I need to review my medication (I did) and perhaps make a change (I did).

I don't know why existential crises and the shearing of hair are so closely linked for me, but they are. It's a follicular cry for help, perhaps.

Also, I turned 50 and went to India to commemorate the milestone birthday.

Anyway, I'll be growing out my platinum pixie in 2020.

I think Nick and I ended the decade with a much more solid relationship. Knock wood the big renovations are done, which is good because not only are they expensive, but they take an emotional toll.

And, in November, we got Wanda. We tried to change her name to Carmen (after Carmen San Diego) but we called her Wanda half the time and Carmen the other half and my mom just keeps calling her Gloria after our best dog ever. So we stuck with Wanda.

My goal was to get a calm dog, and she is an anxious piece of work. She's mostly over being scared of Nick, but alternates between adoring him and getting all shifty when he's around. She adores Betty and Jordan. She likes India but half the time India rushes at her and says things like "Booya booya booya!" which freaks a nervous girl the hell out.

But she's gentle and kind at heart, and that goes a long way.

That's my decade in review. I know I rarely blog anymore, and I appreciate those of you who are still with me.

I am constantly reminded that life takes a village. Happiness takes a village, because what matters more than people we love who love us?

Happy New Year, my friends. I'm wishing you all the best in 2020 and beyond.

So much love to you.


  1. Love you, love your bravery in writing, love that picture! How can that have been only ten years ago?! Love, love, love.

    1. Thank you so much, dear friend! Love right back to you.

  2. Happy New Year! Glad to hear you will be writing more.

    1. Thanks so much, Mike! Happy New Year and hugs to you and your family!

  3. I'm still reading after all these years and I enjoyed your decade recap. :) Here's to more writing in 2020 for both of us!

    1. I'm so glad we connected through the blog world and finally met in real life! Here's to more writing for the both of us!

  4. Thanks for sharing - I love your writing and look forward to more in 2020!

  5. I cut my hair at crossroads, too. It feels like it's the only thing left I can control. I'm glad you are mostly happy. And I so look forward to the things you are going to write in 2020. Have your De Morgan Fantastic Birds graced your bedroom fireplace yet?

  6. Happy new year to you too Dear! I'm with you.


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